KUCHING, Oct 26 ― Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah calls for no open campaign and no open rally to facilitate the next Sarawak election.
“No open campaigning or no open rally does not mean that democracy is curtailed,” the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice president said.
Abdul Karim pointed out that there are other ways and means candidates in election can promote themselves, especially in this digital era.
“We have seen what had happened in Sabah after they held their snap state election (in September 2020),” said the Asajaya assemblyman.
“In view of Sarawak having to undergo a state election soon, it is advisable for the Election Commission (or SPR) to find ways to make sure that the ‘mistakes’ made during last Sabah state election are not repeated,” he added.
Abdul Karim was reacting to the latest comment by Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin that no election-related social gatherings or activities are allowed to facilitate the coming Melaka snap state election in order to reduce Covid-19 infection among people there.
Khairy said the order is to take effect yesterday (October 25) until November 27, 2021.
When contacted yesterday, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) secretary-general Dato Janang Bungsu said he agreed with Khairy.
“Agree that it should be within the stipulated standard operating procedures (SOPs). After all, we are yet to come out from Covid-19 problem. Stringent SOPs must be observed to minimise physical contact,” added Janang.
Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) vice president Datu Dr Penguang Manggil however said it would still be premature now to talk about SOPs for Sarawak election which is being stalled as the state is under the Emergency Order (EO) until its expiry on February 1, 2022.
“The SOPs mentioned therein are for Melaka, during this given time and circumstances. It may be relevant to be imposed in Melaka but may or may not be necessary for Sarawak,” said the Assistant Minister of Housing and Local Government.
“It is also too premature to talk about the SOPs as we have to know when the Emergency is to be lifted and the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) is to be dissolved.
“I am pretty confident that the Ministry of Health (MoH), State Health Department, the SPR and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee will be duly consulted and SOP formulated, taking all factors and any emerging issues before the decision to call for the PRN12 (12th Sarawak election) is made,” said Penguang, who is also Marudi assemblyman.
Khairy had said in a media statement on October 24: “Based on the monitoring by the Ministry of Health, among the contributors to the increase in cases and Covid-19 clusters in the country were related to the activities of gatherings or social gatherings that did not comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs).”
The MoH expected that similar activities will take place leading up to the Melaka state election on November 20, he said.
“As the risk of Covid-19 infection is still high, especially with the spread of the Delta variant in the community, and the increasing number of new Covid-19 cases which have been reported, such activities will further increase the risk of Covid-19 infection within the community,” he said.
Last Monday, the SPR set November 8 as the nomination date for the Melaka state election while the voting date is November 20.
Khairy explained that this ban is in line with the list of unauthorised activities (negative list) in the latest SOPs for states under Phase 4 of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).
Talks are rife in Sarawak that nomination day and polling day for the state election are slated for Nov 13 and Nov 27 respectively if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong wishes to repeal the EO earlier than its expiry date. ― Borneo Post